COVID-19 Updates: For the most up-to-date information on accessing our services learn more here.

Helmut Ajango House Listed in the State Register of Historic Places | Wisconsin Historical Society

News Release

Helmut Ajango House Listed in the State Register of Historic Places

For Immediate Release (September 20, 2021)

Helmut Ajango House Listed in the State Register of Historic Places | Wisconsin Historical Society

Fort Atkinson, WI. - The Wisconsin Historical Society placed the Helmut Ajango House (Fort Atkinson, Jefferson County) on the State Register of Historic Places on August 20, 2021.

Wisconsin-based architect Helmut Ajango was born in Estonia and moved to the United States as a teenager. After becoming an architect, he spent his career in Wisconsin designing buildings throughout the state and surrounding region. Within the context of architectural Modernism, Ajango was one of Wisconsin’s most innovative and original architects during the mid to late 20th century. His residential, commercial, and religious design work in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s included sophisticated Modernist, Organic, Wrightian, and Neo-expressionistic designs. This property has exceptional historic significance due to its association with Helmut Ajango, one of Wisconsin’s best modernist architects whose period of influence ended in 1990, who lived in this home for 53 years and used it as a place for design expression.

Ajango opened his own firm in 1962 and worked until just prior to his death in 2013. He was immersed in the ideas of architectural Modernism and his designs reflect his exploration of unusual geometric shapes, Expressionist architectural design, manipulation of interior volumes, and experimentation in both horizontal and vertical forms. Although Ajango maintained his practice in a small office building in downtown Fort Atkinson, he lived in this house between 1960 and 2013, almost the entirety of his architectural career, as well as his most productive years, and the time when his design philosophies reached maturity. 

Ajango’s hand is evident in his transformation of an existing 19th century frame house into a Modernist composition, reflecting the expression of his design preferences. He used the existing house to experiment, revise, and redesign; this house now embodies his creative architectural expression. Some of his most innovative and well-known designs include: the First Reformed Church (Waupun); the Fireside Playhouse and Restaurant (Fort Atkinson); Robert O’Keefe House (Lake Geneva); Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (Oconomowoc); the Dean Kincaid House (Palmyra); the Gobbler Restaurant (Johnson Creek); Mount Pleasant Lutheran Church (Mount Pleasant); the Bruce Anderson House (Janesville); Hope Lutheran Church (Mineral Point); Water Tower Place (Monona); and Memorial United Church of Christ (Fitchburg).

While there were other Modernist architects in Wisconsin during the same period, Ajango’s work stands apart from his peers in that he was one of the very few who injected playfulness, joy, and exuberance into “organic architecture” and Wright-influenced Modernism. Especially when Ajango worked in the Neo-expressionist mode, he seemed to throw off inhibitions in an unrestrained way that was unique from his peers. His designs continue to stand out in their communities now, more than 30 years since their construction.

The State Register is Wisconsin's official list of state properties determined to be significant to Wisconsin's heritage. The State Historic Preservation Office at the Wisconsin Historical Society administers both the State Register and National Register in Wisconsin.

To learn more about the State and National Register programs in Wisconsin, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org